PM Allowed Indo-Pak Talks To Become J&K Centric: BJP
25 September 2004
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: Claiming that New Delhi's stand on issues of 'vital national interest' has been 'diluted' in the Indo-Pak Joint Statement, BJP on Saturday objected to 'omission' of mention of cross-border terrorism and accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of allowing the bilateral dialogue to become 'J&K centric'. BJP leader and former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said the joint statement issued in New York on Friday after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf amounted to 'regression from the position we (NDA Government) had achieved in January 6 Joint Statement'. He also opposed laying of gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan without making it a part of normal trade relations and Islamabad according Most Favoured Nation (MFN) to India. 'It is for the first time that Jammu and Kashmir issue has been singled out for special mention in the Joint Statement,' he said, pointing out that India has had a principled stand that all issues, including J&K, have to be resolved bilaterally. 'The Prime Minister unfortunately has allowed the dialogue between India and Pakistan to become J&K centric,' Sinha charged while noting that Islamabad had been persistently emphasising on 'centrality' of the issue to which New Delhi used to object. Pointing out that Singh, after his meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, had emphasised that continuing talks with Pakistan without the end of terrorism will be difficult, he said 'this aspect is completely absent in the Joint Statement.' 'India's concern on cross-border terrorism has been omitted in the statement despite an attack on no person less than J and K Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed a day before and increased infiltration which the government has itself said,' the BJP leader said. 'It appears cross-border terrorism ceases to be an issue for the government,' he charged. 'Complete omission of any reference to cross-border terrorism in the statement dilutes the consistent stand of India against state-sponsored cross-border terrorism,' Sinha said. He maintained 'this lapse on the part of Indian negotiators is going to haunt us in the years to come. It will send a clear signal to the terrorists as well as to the international community that state- sponsored cross-border terrorism is no more an issue between India and Pakistan.'